GCSE results

For the first time GCSE grades are down. Well they couldn't go up forever could they? But why this year? Is it because that this year controlled assesments in classrooms were brought in rather than coursework being done at home?


  • I knew they were talking about that, I'd say that would be quite a likely cause, I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned on the news articles on the topic.

  • I'd say that the drop in grades shows how successful that the tightening up of procedures has been. Unfortunately for people passing this year they will be measured against the students of previous years who got Dad to do the coursework for them
  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    The drop is tiny though?  0.4% or something?

    Hardly a major shift, but compared to however-many years of rises it seems to me it's about time.  It's really not likely that every year the kids are brighter or harder-working and/or the teachers better.

  • God, they complain when results are up and now complain when they are down. Every year I feel sorry for the kids collecting their results after flogging their guts out only to be told they are meaningless because "it was much harder in my day" by a load of bitter so-and-so's in the tabloids.


  • No problem with them tightening grade boundaries, it needed doing, however it should have been done at the beginning of the 2 year programme of study not as a last resort. Students/teachers knew what was required to get each grade and worked accordingly. We train for races. How would you feel if you trained for a couple of years and they changed the distance. Like one head teacher said it's like training for the 110metre hurdles for 2 years only to find they raise the height of the hurdles.



  • Savi I agree with you, it's the timing that needs to be correct to ensure fairness to the students sitting them. I think something needed to be done because they had become a bit like many things today with everybody winning.

    I think in some areas they still went up.

  • So when do they change them?  Whatever year you make the switch there's going to be one group in the middle of the two year period.  I guess they could know at the start of the programme, I'm not sure if that was the case this time round, but in my past experience you know about changes in advance.


    It's hard to tell without specifics but if it's just that pupils had to score higher marks then I'm not sure how that would change the teaching, you'd presumably teach the subject so people got the best mark they could.  If there were new types of question that proved difficult then you quite possibly wouldn't teach them until near the end of the course anyway once the basics have been covered and you're on to improving exam technique etc.


    I believe marks went up in Northern Ireland; I was more surprised that their percentage of pupils scoring A*-C was about 6% higher than elsewhere.

  • Susex Runner: In my subject (science) the "coursework" has been in school, supervised and mostly in exam conditions (apart from the experiment bit). The reason the grades are lower is that the exam boards have followed Gove's explicit instructions to "pass" fewer pupils. The grade boundary has simply been made higher. In a two year course, some of the coursework assessment would have been done a year ago. Pupils with a safe result attained then have simply been awarded a lower grade now.

    By all means be honest and say that we want fewer passes so we are raising the pass mark, but, as savi says, do it at the start of the course, not retrospectively.

    If I had paid the equivalent cost to enter a 10k I would want my money back if the course was not only made longer, but there were no distance markers and I wasn't informed of the change until after I had finished.

  • Of course, its not about the kids, its all about politics.

    Gormless Gove wan'ts fewer kids to get their 5 A* to C passes so he can force more schools to become academies, removing local accountability and making money for his backers.

  • They pass the exams and told that they are too easy. The pass rate falls and they are told that they aren't working as hard. The poor buggers can't win. Cut them some slack and recognise the achievements that they have made.

  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭

    Standards haven't risen in the last 20 years - the marking just got a lot more generous.   Something needed and still needs to be done - the most obvious solution would be 10% A 15% B etc and it stays the same proportion from year to year.  

    Yes it means that exams wouldn't measure progress in teaching over time but that's not their point is it - at least they'd provide a measure of how students measured up against their peers.   

  • That was how it was done in the dim and distant past when I was at school.  Also the papers were set so that if answered properly the questions could not all be answered completely in the time allowed.  This meant the better entrants would still be gaining points when the exam finished.

  • In the old days the top 29% of kids sat O levels and the teaching and examination standard was set to test them, the other 71% sat CSE's and again the teaching and examination was set to that level

    Now you have one exam that is attempting to measure all kids. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that won't work

    Time to stop treating all kids as equals
  • I was taking 'O' level GCEs when the first CSEs were being trialled so some of my friends took them as well.  Then if you got a Grade 1 pass it was treated as the equivalent of an 'O' level grade 'E' pass.

    As it was quite usual then to leave school at 16 if not earlier it was much more common to continue learning whilst working by means of night school and day release.  Professional qualifications such as ONC, HNC and HND would be related to your actual job.  The Civil Service and banks had their own internal examinations which you had to pass to gain promotion.  The problem is that now schools and universities provide what employers did in the past and sometimes what is provided is not always what is actually required.

  • Realistically it was going to happen at some time, we've taught our kids to believe that anything less than uni is not good enough, yet we have a situation where time served engineers and Plumbers can now earn as much as junior Doctors. I agree with BBH that training from the education system doesnt quite hit the mark, This will maybe start a swing to vocational training which is where the UK is seriously lagging behind.
  • Secondary Moderns and Grammar Schools then?


    The English specs have changed and they've been caught by a shift upwards in the mark scheme and lack of guidance from the boards on what constitutes a C.  

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I know at my secondary school - there was a push towards the academic areas. There were some kids whose aim was to become a plumber (like their dad). There's nothing shameful about this as at least he wanted to do something. I think there should be the focus on ensuring that everyone can do the basics and then push kids in the direction they want to go (languages, woodwork, 'practical' skills).

    There's nothing shameful in having a trade.

  • Nothing shameful? I wish I was one exotic holiday a year behind my plumber friend.
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